As we all know this year has been extremely difficult for all of us within the theatre and arts industry. So, in our last blog of the year, we wanted to focus on the positives that we have seen come out of theatre during 2020.
Early on we saw the strength and resilience of our people. Some took on new roles within other sectors including the frontline, some took to writing, some performed online, some taught creative skills to others to survive. Working outside the arts might not have been what they were thought they were destined to do, but they all knew that very soon they would be back where they were meant to be.
This positivity and determination continued through the industry week after week. Each time we were knocked back with the news that theatres would be closed for longer than expected, we continued to support one another and show the world that our professions do matter, and the arts are viable.
As an industry we held protests and events. We lit up our theatres in emergency red to show the critical situation we are in. We helped to raise millions of pounds for theatres and theatre workers through different initiatives and collaborations including Theatre Together, Theatre Support Fund, ‘Leave a Light On’ with the Theatre Café, Theatre Artist Fund set up by Sam Mendes and many others.
We took our performances online, enabling a huge range of both new and archived shows becoming available to both theatre fans and new audiences. From The National Theatre at Home (which has had an audience of over 15million) and The Shows Must Go On via YouTube to theatres independently streaming productions, going online has not only introduced a huge number of people of all ages to incredible theatre, but it also shone a spotlight on the vast array of talent that is within our industry.
Outdoor concerts and drive ins have also taken place to give theatre goers and music lovers some much needed fun and escapism.
In July, outdoor theatres reopened including the Minack, Regents Park and local venue, The Arches Theatre. This gave artists and theatre workers the support and opportunity to perform at a time they needed it the most.
Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber carried out a new pilot performance at The London Palladium. It worked, but it was just not financially viable. However, many other producers including Michael Rose, Nica Burns and Sonia Friedman, began working towards bringing big productions back to London and the West End.
Sleepless the Musical, The Last Five Years, Six the Musical, Fiver, The Play That Goes Wrong, Les Misérables and many more returned to light up the London stage, but only for a short time before theatres once again went into darkness.
Over 180 theatres around England have postponed their pantos this year, but it hasn’t stopped a huge amount streaming their productions online or even writing their own brand-new festive shows.
This is just a handful of our thoughts from throughout the year, all in all there have been quite a few positives. It has all been a bit stop start in terms of getting back on the stage, but it shows that we are a determined industry, and we are ready and raring to go when we can get back into the theatre! There will be no stopping us.
We will no doubt always look back on 2020 as a period of uncertainty and heartbreak as well as incredible life transformation and learning. We’ve remained resilient, learned to adapt to the continual changes around us and we’ve come out fighting every single time.
As the National Theatre has quite rightly said back in April: ‘Theatre and the arts are a positive force for our community in turbulent times’. We couldn’t agree more.
We mentioned in a recent blog that we believe ‘A cultural explosion is on its way’ from artists and theatre-makers who have created new magical theatre and art throughout lockdown.
This explosion won’t only be from the artists that we have seen whilst streaming productions, it will also be from local actors and creatives, including The Play’s The Thing Theatre Company.
We have kept you involved over the last few months with our new project ‘Invisible Visible’, which came to fruition during lockdown. We’ve been lucky enough to carry out a range of pieces with those involved including podcasts, interviews, twines and films plus socially distanced workshops at MK College.
We’ve shared some of what has been created online in our blogs. There’s much more to come!
Now is the time to share some exciting news!
On 26th February 2021 we will be exhibiting everything we have created for our project at an event at MK Gallery. The exhibition will continue for six weeks until April 2021. We can’t wait to tell and show you more about ‘Invisible Visible’. We hope you will be able to join us.